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Concerns over weekly bus-pass costs in Lochaber have become a reality as some passengers are finding themselves having to buy two tickets to get to and from work.
Bronwyn Strachan lives in Corpach but works in Fort William with the Buzz Project. As with many workplaces, her shift pattern varies and, depending on the project’s needs, she will sometimes start at 10am one day and finish at 10pm the next.
Despite this, up until last month Bronwyn only needed to buy a weekly ticket with Stagecoach for £9.90 to cover her commute.
But since the Highland Council renegotiated contracts with bus operators, changes to services have caused her travel costs to double.
Bronwyn’s mum, Janice, told the Lochaber Times: ‘Shiel starts taking the run from Corpach to Fort William around about 6pm, and because there still has not been any agreement where Shiel and Stagecoach accept the one pass, Bronwyn is now having to buy one for day and one for night so it costs her £20 a week.
‘The daily tickets are £1.90 which is a fortune and really undermines a young girl’s efforts to get herself into work.’
The timing of the changeover also negatively effected Bronwyn.
Janice explained: ‘Bronwyn had a monthly ticket that was valid up until April 28 but the changes came into force on April 24 and because Shiel would not accept her Stagecoach pass for essentially the same journey, she has lost four days of travel and had to cough up again.
‘It is disgusting. These companies are only thinking of themselves and I have heard of many other passengers who been affected in the same way.’
A spokesperson for Stagecoach North Scotland said: ‘There are now two operators providing services between Corpach and Fort William as a result of the recent Highland Council tender process.
‘Unlimited travel using Stagecoach buses between Fort William and Corpach is available from as little as £1.35 per day using our four-week megarider ticket.
‘We acknowledge the desire for multi-operator ticketing in the Lochaber area and continue to be available to discuss this with the Highland Council and other bus operators in the area.’
At the point of the tenders being agreed, Highland Council said it was aware of the emerging issue and when asked for an update a spokesperson told the Lochaber Times: ‘We are currently unable to provide multi-operator bus tickets in Lochaber and are looking to negotiate with operators to potentially provide such a service in the future.’